Keeping in touch by two-way radio.
In developing countries, the delivery of basic health care services is often hampered by communications problems. A pilot project in Guyana, involving 2-way radio in 9 medex (medical extension) locations, was funded by USAID (United States Aid for International Development). A training manual was prepared, and a training workshop provided the medex workers with practical experience in using the radios. The 2-way radios have facilitated arrangements for the transport of goods, hastened arrangements for leave, and shortened delays in correspondence and other administrative matters. Communication links enable rural health workers to treat patients with the advice of a doctor and allow doctors to monitor patient progress. Remote medex workers report that regular radio contacts with their colleagues have lessened their sense of isolation, boosted their morale, and helped build their confidence. 1 important element of the project was the training given to the field workers in proper use of the radio and in basic maintenance. Another key to the success of the system appears to be the strength and professionalism of the medex organization itself. Satellite systems may eventually prove to be the most cost effective means of providing rural telephone and broadcasting services and may also be designed to include dedicated medical communications networks at very little additional cost.